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THE TRIAL OF ABRAHAM.
His victim.—“He offered up Isaac.” It was not Ishmael, but Isaac, the darling Isaac, the child of promise, the child of miracles, the child of his old age. He must suffer, and suffer without any crime. In this Isaac was a type of the innocent Jesus, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. He was to suffer by his father's hand, that father who loved him as an only son is loved ; that father, who looked upon him as the only hope of his house, the only stay of his old age, and the expected progenitor of the Messiah. When about to be offered, Isaac seems to have willingly submitted. Though grown up, and vigorous, and capable of resistance, he suffered himself to be bound and laid upon the altar without remonstrance, and without a struggle.
His faith.—“By faith Abraham offered.” He believed in God as his God and Father, When he was first called to leave his country, and friends, and idols, he obeyed without hesitation, and now that he had received a command from the same God to whose service he had devoted himself, to offer up his only son Isaac, he believed and obeyed. Duty was plain, and he resolved to follow it, and leave consequences with God. Probably he expected a present substitute for Isaac, and at least, in due time, he expected a substitute in Christ, and he was not disappointed.
"Let no man deceive himself."-1 Cor, iii, 18.
Mistakes in the affairs of life are often rectified, but mistakes in religion are always dangerous and often fatal.
Some deceive themselves by mistaking knowledge for religion. A man cannot have religion without knowledge, but he may have knowledge without religion. Hence, though knowledge is essential, yet it saves no man. • Though I understand all knowledge, and all mysteries, and have not love, I am nothing.” “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.” If knowledge is merely in the head and speculative, it may enable us to converse about religion, but it is not religion ; it is a shadow without any substance, a mock sun without any inherent light. Without a change of heart—without love to God and love to men, the knowledge of divine truth, and familiarity with the doctrines of religion, will only aggravate our doom.
Some deceive themselves by mistaking temporary impression for conversion. When the word of God is read, and the gospel preached, and an earnest ministry enjoyed, they may be arrested, and half resolved. When personal or relative affliction visits them, and brings them down
to the dust, they may be solemnized and awakened; but no sooner is the affliction
gone, than the dream of life begins. When they are brought into the presence of death, a holy awe may fill the soul—they may imagine that they have good frames and divine impulses—they may have bitter regrets for sin, and resolutions to amend; but unless their hearts and lives are purified, sin abandoned, and duty observed, all their impressions will be “as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away.”
Some deceive themselves by mistaking partial reformation for religion. Religion consists of saving knowledge in the head-saving grace in the heart-and a holy walk and conversation. We think as the word and Spirit of God teach us to think-we feel as the word and Spirit of God teach us to feel—and we obey as the word and Spirit of God teach us to obey. A man may see one thing to be true, or a thousand things to be true; but if he is not reformed in his views, in his heart, and in his conduct, he reaches only the surface of religion, and must be a stranger to its sublime realities and lofty enjoyments. Half measures have no place in genuine religion. It will not do merely to abandon one sin, or a few sins. It will not do to attend to one duty only, or go the round of a few duties. If we are to confess Christ at all, we must depart from all iniquity, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord.
Some deceive themselves by waiting. They imagine that they must wait till the Lord's time come, till they are more thoroughly convinced of their sin and danger, till they are better prepared for a religious life, and till God send His Holy Spirit to change their hearts. Is not the Lord's time “Now," and why not take Him at His word? Did not the three thousand who were converted on the day of Pentecost, repent and believe without waiting? Does not God give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? Can we ever be better prepared for becoming religious than now? If a sick man were saying, Send not for medical assistance till I am a little better, would we not be astonished at his folly? If we were in danger, would we not make haste to escape ? If our house were on fire, would we not flee for our lives? And shall ourimmortal souls be in jeopardy, without an effort to save them ? Let us escape to Jesus for our life, without hesitation, and without delay.
Some deceive themselves by imagining that they have enough of religion, if they observe outward duties. Outward duties are good in their own place, but they form no ground of acceptance with God. Mere morality, however unexceptionable, is a barren religion. It is a casket without a jewel, a nut without a kernel, and a body without a soul.
ISAAC BLESSING HIS TWO SONS.
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, concerning things to come.
-Heb. xi, 20.
ISAAC was a good man, a worthy son of his worthy father Abraham, and doubtless he was anxious that his children should fear God, and be heirs of a better inheritance than earth could afford. Let us think of the father, his two sons, his blessing, and his faith.
The father.—When Isaac was young, and about to be married, he was found alone in the field holding intercourse with God, and meditating and praying at eventide. He was happy in his marriage, and after years of trial and patience had passed away, Rebekah bare him two sons. Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Isaac feared the Lord God of his father Abraham, and, once and again, God renewed the covenant with him, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Besides, in temporal things, the Lord gave him a large blessing. " And the man waxed great, and grew until he became very great.” His two sons being grown up, must begin the world for themselves, and therefore he was anxious to give them evidence of his love and bestow on them his blessing.
His two sons were Jacob and Esau. They were